Creator: W.O. Mitchell, ’43 BA, ’75 DLitt (Honorary)
Impact: Helped create a literary geography of the West and became a Canadian classic
By Rudy Wiebe
Who Has Seen the Wind: first edition, Macmillan, Toronto, 1947 — the story of “a boy and the wind.” Amazingly, it takes place in Saskatchewan. The boy is a prairie kid like me. Now a Canadian classic, read by millions! And I have my own first-edition copy, but without the dustjacket; the faded-red spine creaks when I open its heavy pages to read:
“At the edge of the town, they turned and stood, looking out over the prairie, to its far line where sheet lightning, elusive as a butterfly, winked up the world’s dark rim.”
My title page is signed, the swift “WOMitchell” Bill had so much practice perfecting. In fact, I also have it in five other of his first-edition books. He signed them one of the evenings he had supper with my wife, Tena, and me during the years he taught fiction at the U of A while I worked on The Temptations of Big Bear. We remember so well his evocative gravelly voice, unforgettable as a prairie meadowlark song, telling stories … it could make you laugh or cry — as he saw fit — simply by pronouncing the label on a pair of overalls.
Author Rudy Wiebe, OC, ’56 BA, ’60 MA, ’09 DLitt (Honorary), has earned the Governor General’s Award for Fiction twice, for The Temptations of Big Bear (1973) and A Discovery of Strangers (1994).
This printer’s typescript with editorial corrections and a first edition of Who Has Seen the Wind are part of the W.O. Mitchell archive at the University of Calgary.